Butting heads over vaccine mandates and more labor shortages

Welcome to a new edition of The Weekender… where United States companies are caught in the middle of the showdown between the White House and Texas. Also, Americans are resigning in massive numbers, which may impact the upcoming holidays, while Congress kicks the can down the road on debt. Plus, sports betting takes off in the U.S. as more companies work to get a piece of the action. Read about these stories and more below in this week’s edition of The Weekender. Thanks for joining us.
The vaccine standoff between the White House and Texas leaves companies stuck in the middle

The Biden administration has been on the receiving end of widespread opposition since announcing federal vaccine requirements for the private sector. Few opponents have been as forceful as the state of Texas. In response to federal action, Texas moved to bar vaccine mandates by any entity — including within the private sector. This action has created the perfect storm. While the White House rebuked Governor Greg Abbott and the state of Texas, many companies are stuck in the middle between two opposing government orders. Texas-based airline companies Southwest Airlines and American Airlines say they will abide by the federal vaccine order instead of the Texas ban on private mandates. As other companies decide how to move forward, experts are split on whether businesses can technically abide by both orders. Since Biden’s executive order allows for regular testing instead of vaccination, walking the line to follow both orders may be possible. This is good news not only for Texas-based companies but also for Florida-based companies as Governor Ron DeSantis also plans to challenge Biden’s vaccine mandates. Read more in the Wall Street Journal

Summer 2021 did not just bring vacations – it brought resignations

As employers are looking to get back to business as usual and return to the office, they face an unexpected issue: American workers are quitting in record numbers. August resignations set a record pace, with nearly 3 percent of the workforce (or 4.3 million people) leaving their jobs. At the same time, job openings also fell in August for the first time all year, signaling a tempering in demand for new hires. What is prompting people to leave their jobs? COVID-19 related issues, like vaccinations or how employers are handling exposure, certainly played a role — after all, employees in the retail and hospitality industries quit at nearly double the national average in August. But the restructuring of the workplace that COVID-19 caused is a crucial element. Many employees simply do not want a return to in-person workplaces and the 40-hour workweek. While some of these employees may be seeking a work environment that better suits them, others could be eyeing early retirement – however, experts point to American financial unpreparedness as a roadblock to this route. Whatever the motivation, it is likely that the high numbers of retiring employees will impact the holidays. The White House has been scrambling to fix some things that could negatively affect Americans this holiday season, like supply chain-driven shipping delays. If the recent meltdown in operations over at Southwest Airlines is any indicator, fewer employees in the workforce may start to impact our day-to-day lives more than initially predicted. Read more in The Associated Press

U.S. House slaps a temporary fix on America’s debt limit and default crisis

President Biden signed legislation that ensures America does not default on debt in the coming days, kicking the can down the road to December. While there are hopes of solving the problem before the end-of-year deadline, optimism is tempered by bipartisan bickering. While some Senate Republicans joined Democrats in voting for this stopgap measure that allows for the debt ceiling to be raised, Republican leadership is warning that they will not vote for such a bill a second time. The legislation also received a party-line vote in the U.S. House. That means that while the crisis has been averted (for now), Democrats will be left dealing with the same two-headed monster in December: potential government shutdown and the risk of America defaulting on its loans. And with Republicans and Democrats already duking it out on Capitol Hill over budgets and spending, any solution is unlikely to pass quickly. Read more in The Hill. 

Sports betting expansion is fierce competition, but is it profitable?

While the industry is still in its infancy, the world of sports betting has taken off since getting the green light from the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018. A total of 27 states have legalized sports betting to some degree. Legality ranges from the full legalization of online sports betting to legalizing only in-person sportsbooks. While all these options fall under the sports betting industry, there are certainly differences to consumers. As the industry heats up, so has the competition over market share. So far, weekly fantasy sports operators have been driving the industry, with FanDuel and DraftKings making up more than 50 percent of the sports betting market share. Why are so many companies vying for positions in a relatively new and unprofitable industry? Experts say it’s because they see what is coming down the road. Just as sports betting itself has evolved over the years, the world of online sports betting is evolving into one that will be immensely profitable and will cross international borders. Worldwide, online betting is on track to hit $92.9 billion in 2023. Sports betting, particularly online sports betting, is helping fuel this growth. Read more in Axios

Global wealth disparities are increasing as worldwide economic growth cools down

COVID-19 shines a spotlight on not only the economic state of individual nations but also the worldwide economic outlook. Nearly two years after the pandemic hit, global economic outlooks are still dismal. The financial success or failure of just one country can have an international ripple effect, which is what’s happening right now. Between COVID-19, inflation, supply chain issues, and more, many countries face an economic crisis. The United States is not exempt as our nation wrestles over issues, like what to do to avoid defaulting on debt and the potential depletion of Social Security after a massive cost-of-living increase. Economic problems have real repercussions, widening the disparity between the world’s wealthiest and poorest citizens. The COVID-19 vaccine is highlighting this problem. While many of the world’s wealthiest countries are allowing booster shots for their citizens, many nations struggle to get even a first dose to their citizens. Read more in The New York Times. 


Mexico and Canada look forward to the November opening of the U.S. border, but only for the vaccinated

After closing to all non-essential crossings in March of 2020, the United States is reopening its shared borders with Canada and Mexico in early November. It will remove all border restrictions for vaccinated visitors. However, concerns about vaccine requirements linger for America’s neighbors to the north and south. The vaccination protocols that will be in place for those crossing the border are similar to the rules implemented for those traveling internationally to the United States by air. However, vaccine stipulations may shut out visitors who have been vaccinated with doses not approved in the United States or who have been vaccinated with two doses from different manufacturers. Unvaccinated visitors will still not be allowed to enter the United States. Read more in Reuters


 636: The number of days (as of Friday) that China’s President Xi Jinping hasn’t left his country – the longest streak without international travel by any G20 leader – and he doesn’t have plans to break it anytime soon.

5: The youngest age eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

$4 million: The amount of money 18 former NBA players are alleged got have stolen in a scheme to defraud the league’s health and welfare benefit plan.

1.800+: The number of flights Southwest Airlines canceled last weekend, leaving passengers stranded across the country. The airline apologized to affected travelers but hasn’t released an official explanation behind the mass cancellations.

2:24:45: The time it took first-place winner Diane Chemtai Kipyogei to finish the Boston Marathon on Monday. For the first time in history, the iconic event was held in October rather than its usual April date.

1 million: The number of restaurant and bar jobs that are still missing from the job market since pre-pandemic levels. Aggressive and sometimes violent clashes between customers and service workers over COVID-19 safety protocols are reportedly the reason behind the industry’s labor shortage.

60+: The age of people that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says should not take low-dose aspirin daily to prevent a first heart attack or stroke. The dosage in people 60 and older has no benefit due to an increased risk of bleeding.

26.9: The average points per game Kyrie Irving scored last season with the Nets, but due to New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, Irving will be sidelined until he receives at least one dose of the vaccine.

19 months: The duration of time non-essential travelers from Mexico and Canada have been unable to enter the U.S. at land ports of entry. That ends early next month, with proof of vaccination, of course.


Credit: ABC News on Twitter. 
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